Cursive writing has been making a comeback in classrooms

Apr 12, 2019, 2:51 PM
cursive writing education classroom student...
Photo: Getty Images

(CNN) — It’s a familiar refrain. Parents lament that technology is turning good, legible cursive handwriting into a lost art form for their kids.

In response, lawmakers in state after state — particularly in the South — are carving out space in teachers’ classroom time to keep the graceful loops of cursive writing alive for the next generation.

Alabama passed a law requiring it in 2016. That same year, Louisiana passed its own cursive law. Others like Arkansas, Virginia, California, Florida, North Carolina, have similar laws.

Texas is the latest state in which educators are pushing to bring back cursive writing in elementary schools.

The changes in the Lone Star State, which were adopted in 2017, are set to go into effect during the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

Each state’s curriculum differs in subtle ways. The roadmap described in the Texas Education Code, for instance, includes requirements for instruction to begin with teaching second graders how to form cursive letters with the “appropriate strokes when connecting letters.”

Third graders would focus on writing complete words, thoughts, and answers to questions, and fourth graders would need to be able to complete their assignments outright in cursive.

Cursive is again becoming widespread across the South

Data compiled by the Southern Regional Education Board in 2016 showed that 14 of the 16 states the SREB oversees expect that cursive instruction begin by the third grade.

The year 2010 was a “pivotal year” for the cursive comeback, the SREB says. That’s when “college- and career-readiness standards did not explicitly include it,” including the national Common Core standards. The SREB showed the number of cursive-teaching states dropping from 12 down to six that year.

But by 2016, the flowing script has rebounded up to 14 Southern states. With another Southern state, Texas, coming on board that makes 18 total in the US.

Advocates for handwriting have struggled against technological change

Anne Trubek, the author of “The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting,” told CNN that efforts to emphasize cursive have been ongoing “for years.”

And debates about whether we should preserve handwriting are not a strictly modern phenomena, as various periods in history featured standoffs between traditionalists and those who favored new writing and communication technologies.

In ancient Greece, Socrates had opposed writing outright, Trubek noted. The philosopher preferred the Greeks’ oral tradition and felt those who didn’t write things down would preserve a “better memory,” she said.

Later, monks in the Middle Ages agitated against the invention of the printing press, which threatened to make their beautiful, hand-copied texts obsolete.

As inventions like the printing press and the Internet catapult humanity forward, “there will be a loss,” Trubek said.

In the history of handwriting, we’re in a unique place in which most Americans alive learned cursive writing, and efforts to re-instill cursive in a new generation of youth represented a new “reaction” to ongoing change, she said.

A handwriting scholar doesn’t think cursive is an essential modern skill

Today, debates in favor of cursive take the form of “tradition strangely grafted onto patriotism,” she said, nothing that some legislators complained that if students didn’t learn how to write in cursive, then they wouldn’t be able to read the Declaration of Independence.

Trubek, who served as a tenured professor at Oberlin College, said she herself can’t read the original flowing script of the Declaration of Independence, and there was nothing wrong with students reading the nation’s founding documents in transcribed versions with fonts legible to modern eyes.

Trubek also said students didn’t necessarily need cursive to come up with their own signature that conferred their “indviduality” and “uniqueness” in signing legal forms either. She said technology like the chips in credit cards were more effective in preventing fraud than in pen-and-paper signatures that can be forged.

“I don’t think children should be required to learn cursive if they don’t want to,” Trubek said.

But, still, she said careful, thoughtful has its virtues. “It’s a fine motor skill,” and taking time to skillfully perfect the art has positive effects on students’ cognitive development.

“Handwriting is slower,” Trubek said, “And sometimes you just want to slow down.”

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories


Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. Photo credit: Uta...
Devin Oldroyd

Hogle Zoo welcomes new Red Panda in effort to conserve the species

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. It hopes to breed her with Mow Mow, a red panda currently living there.
6 days ago
USU Aviation The Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) created a series of r...
Michele Rowe

Flight instructor, student, die in crash of USU Aviation plane

Officials said a teacher and student affiliated with USU aviation were killed in a plane crash near Wellsville.
12 days ago
USU Aviation The Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) created a series of r...
Waverly Golden

Utah State University reports on Latina women’s status in Utah

The Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project researched disparities between Latina Women and all women in Utah.
20 days ago
Utah Valley University March 23, 2020.  (Gabriel Mayberry/ UVU Marketing)...
Martha Harris

Utah adults struggling in their civics knowledge, a UVU study said

Utah adults get an almost failing grade in their civics knowledge, according to a study from Utah Valley University.
28 days ago
The Utah State Board of Education building. Utah schools give out a risk prevention survey every tw...
Aimee Cobabe

Utah State Board of Education drops support for risk prevention survey

Utah schools have given kids a health and risk prevention survey since 2003, but the State Board of Education recently pulled its support for the survey.
28 days ago
utah student achievement COVID-19...
Simone Seikaly

Utah student performance knocked down during COVID-19 restrictions

A review of multiple Utah student performance exams found "significant impacts" in mathematics achievement across grades.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Cursive writing has been making a comeback in classrooms